Alaska Native Collections – Sharing Knowledge

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Snow goggles

nigaugek “old-style snow goggles made out of wood”
Language: Central Yup'ik

Snow goggles prevent one from squinting from the brightness, and they used them before sunglasses became available. And those who had bad eyes used them when they rowed to make their eyesight better. It helped you see better.

—Phillip Moses, from “Yuungnaqpiallerput: The Way We Genuinely Live,” 2007

These snow goggles have a wrap-around slit for seeing to the sides as well as straight ahead. Elders have pointed out that goggles with narrow slits not only protect the eyes from excess light, but also sharpen and focus vision, like a pinhole camera. Snow goggles are an ancient element of Inuit hunting cultures, appearing in archaeological sites up to 2000 years old.

Culture: Yup’ik
Region: Lower Yukon River, Alaska
Village: Mission
Object Category: Hunting
Dimensions: Length 15.7cm
Accession Date: 1879
Source: Edward W. Nelson (collector)
Museum: National Museum of Natural History
Museum ID Number: E038251